CWS Top Teams Bracket, Round Two: 2007 Oregon State vs. 2017 Oregon StateCollege World Series
Today would have been the day eight of the 2020 College World Series. Since we don’t have live baseball to watch, we’re taking a look back at the greatest CWS teams of the modern 64-team NCAA tournament era. In conjunction with NCAA.com, we’ve made our picks for the 32 best Omaha teams since 1999 and seeded them into a bracket.
Now it’s your turn. Each day, we’ll present a few matchups for fans to vote on, as we work our way through the bracket to determine the greatest College World Series team of the super regional era.
2007 Oregon State Beavers (49-18 overall; CWS champion)
No. 30 seed
Like the 2011 Gamecocks, these Beavers earned a second straight national championship, but their route to the pinnacle was dramatically different. While South Carolina was dominant from start to finish in 2011, OSU raced out to a 23-3 start in nonconference play but then got lost in the wilderness during Pac-10 play, going 10-14 in conference and barely sneaking into a regional as a No. 3 seed — a controversial selection by the Division I Baseball Committee, as OSU’s metrics did not compare favorably with other bubble contenders who were snubbed. But once they earned that new life, the Beavers played with the swagger of the champions they knew they were — a swagger encapsulated by the “O-State Ballaz” rap song penned by catcher Mitch Canham, now the OSU head coach. Oregon State would go 11-1 in the NCAA tournament to complete the repeat, and by the time it got to Omaha, it was a buzzsaw.
The Beavers’ only postseason loss came in their second game at the Charlottesville Regional against host Virginia, but they took down the Cavs twice in a row later in the weekend to advance through the losers’ bracket. That set up a home super regional against Michigan, which upset mighty Vanderbilt as the No. 2 seed in the Nashville Regional but couldn’t host the super while its ballpark was being renovated. The Beavers held the Wolverines to just two runs in a two-game super regional sweep at Goss Stadium. Oregon State had just one close game in Omaha — its CWS opener against Cal State Fullerton, which was a 3-2 win. The Beavers won the rest of their games by five or more runs, outscoring opponents 39-14 over their final four games, capped by a sweep of No. 3 national seed North Carolina in a CWS Finals rematch. Righthander Jorge Reyes earned CWS Most Outstanding Player honors by going 2-0, 2.92 in Omaha, and future big leaguer Mike Stutes won both of his CWS starts also. Daniel Turpen delivered eight innings of one-run ball in OSU’s other game, and future major leaguer Joe Paterson (1.74 ERA in 10.1 innings) was a force of nature in the bullpen, appearing in all five CWS games.
But Canham and shortstop Darwin Barney were the most iconic members of the OSU dynasty, which made three straight CWS trips from 2005-07. Canham hit .400 with five RBIs in Omaha in ’07, while Barney hit .350 with five RBIs, and both of them continued to come through in the clutch over and over, like they did throughout their careers. Barney and Joey Wong played spectacular defense in the middle infield, and the Beavers swung hot bats when it mattered most, hitting .345 as a team in Omaha.
2017 Oregon State (56-6 overall; national semifinalist)
No. 19 seed
The only team in our field that didn’t reach the CWS Finals, the ’17 Beavers had a shot to go down as the greatest team in history, but they ran out of gas in Omaha’s final four. OSU posted a historic regular season, going 27-3 in the Pac-12 to win the regular season by six games to earn the No. 1 national seed. Then the Beavers obliterated their opposition in regionals and supers, outscoring their opponents 27-3 in an undefeated waltz through regionals, then crushing Vanderbilt by an aggregate 17-6 in a super regional sweep. That propelled OSU to Omaha with an eye-popping 54-4 overall record.
But ace Luke Heimlich — who went 11-1, 0.76 as a junior that season — did not play for the Beavs in the super regional or the College World Series after it came to light that he had pled guilty to a sexual assault as a juvenile, engulfing Oregon State in controversy. The Beavers rallied around each other and won their first two games in Omaha against Cal State Fullerton and LSU, but then their bats went quiet, and they fell in back-to-back games to LSU, 3-1 and 6-1. So these undermanned Beavers fell short of their ultimate goal, but this team was simply stacked to the gills with talent. The lineup featured four future first-round picks in Nick Madrigal, Cadyn Grenier, Trevor Larnach and 2019 Golden Spikes Award winner and No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman, plus third-rounder KJ Harrison and fifth-rounder Steven Kwan. Even without injured first-round pick Drew Rasmussen, the pitching staff dominated behind Heimlich, third-rounder Jake Thompson and consummate winner Bryce Fehmel.
How They Match Up: Oregon State fans have spent countless hours dreaming of what could have been in 2017. That team could have been the greatest college baseball team of all time, but it fell in the national semifinals. So which group of Beavs is greater: the juggernaut that ran out of gas, or the upstart regional No. 3 seed that caught fire in the postseason and left scorched earth in its wake in Omaha? You decide.
So which group of Beavs is greater: the juggernaut that ran out of gas, or the upstart regional No. 3 seed that caught fire in the postseason and left scorched earth in its wake in Omaha?
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 20, 2020